The Green Party has apologised for running an ad which attacked Simon Bridges.
The ad – which was published on the party’s Twitter page on the 23rd of July – mocked Bridges’ accent and polling results. It was released after he clashed with the Green Party’s Julie Ann Genter over the government’s support of electric car initiatives.
The ad saw Bridges portrayed as a car salesman walking through his car yard. A voice-actor dubbed the video to make it appear as though he were making comments on the government’s current electric cars scheme. “I love electric cars, but now the government is making them affordable – it just makes me so angry,” he said at one point. At another, he took a shot at his own polling results : “prices are down, emissions are down, my polling is down”. Bridges’ accent was mocked throughout.
Party co-leader James Shaw – who authorised the ad – initially defended it. He told reporters the advertisement was only intended to show the hypocrisy of Bridges’ anti-electric car stance, and that it was no worse than other “negative campaigning” the National party had engaged in.
But other Green Party staff weren’t convinced. Several current and former members voiced their disappointment with the ad shortly after it was released, including the Greens at Vic organisation (who criticised the ad on their official Twitter account) and the Green Party’s former director of communications and policy David Cormack (who called the add the kind of “classist bulls**t” the party was “supposed to be above”).
Three hours after it was published, the Green Party removed the video from their Twitter feed. The party apologised for the ad in a short comment released shortly after the removal. “It’s been raised that a video that we made using satire to poke fun at another political party’s attack ads was of poor taste and lowered the tone of the debate,” the apology read, “To our supporters: we heard you, and we’ve deleted the post and apologise for causing offence”.
Shaw changed tack following the removal. “Negative ads is not the sort of thing we want to see in New Zealand,” he told the press on his way out of Parliament.
For his part, Bridges says he “found the video funny”. “We’re holding the Government to account on their taxing of New Zealanders, they’re holding me to account on my accent,” he says.